Exploring perceived sources of conflict among educators in three Eastern Cape schools

Andre du Plessis, Gerard Cain


Conflict is part of organisations and manifests between people in various contexts, including in schools. The
purpose of this exploratory intrinsic qualitative interpretive case study was to explore the causes of conflict
among teachers in three primary schools residing in previously disadvantaged social contexts, as previous
studies have not explored these perceived causes among primary school teachers and neither have these
studies been able to frame the causes by means of a conceptual nor Bourdieuan lens. Exploring conflict as
tensions are important as it has the potential to result in dysfunctional conflict that negatively impact on the
teachers, learners and learning. Purposive sampling was used and fifty-nine educators participated from three
primary schools in Port Elizabeth, South Africa. Qualitative data was gathered using semi-structured
individual interviews, focus group interviews and an open-ended questionnaire. The six categories of the
conflict cube of Bradshaw were used to indicate the six main themes, namely relationship conflicts, value
conflicts, data conflicts, structural conflicts, interest conflicts and needs-based conflict. The categories
associated with each of the main themes are presented as sub-sets by utilising the categorisation properties of a
conflict cube. A Bourdieuan lens has also been utilised to interpret the data. The findings suggest that
principals, School Management Teams (SMTs) and educators have to be made aware what causes conflict
within the field to enable all role players to be more cognisant of these issues in order to become more proactive
in their day-to-day interactions within the school context. It is proposed the visual participatory
methodologies are explored as tools to assist with the drafting of policies.


Bourdieu; conflict cube

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Copyright (c) 2018 Andre du Plessis, Gerard Cain

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Journal of Education